There’s been a lot of talk about ‘game-changing’ infrastructure for the Sunshine Coast recently, but a rail commute from Nambour to Brisbane in just 45 minutes could be the project that changes everything.
Team Queensland – the State’s 26 Federal Coalition MPs working as a political bloc – is steaming ahead with its latest project, led by Ted O’Brien.
“Duplication of the Beerburrum to Nambour rail line has been a high priority and the need to improve commuter travel to Brisbane is a no brainer. Well, right now we’re also pursuing another rail solution that’s even bigger and bolder,” said Ted O’Brien, Federal Member for Fairfax.
“Fast rail has the ability to make the journey from Nambour to Brisbane a 45 minute trip and that comes down to just 30 minutes from Beerwah.
“The Turnbull Government has $10 billion available right now to improve passenger rail connections between cities and regions. A comprehensive business case is exactly what we need to go after as much of that $10 billion budget as possible,” Mr O’Brien said.
Member for Fisher Andrew Wallace, who is also a member of Team Qld, is swinging in behind the project. “Sunshine Coast Federal LNP Members understand that our transport woes will not be cured by simply adding lanes to the Highway,” said Mr Wallace.
In September the Federal Government launched the Faster Rail Prospectus to start the process of bidding to build Australia’s first fast rail service. It included $20 million in funding to support the development of three fast rail business cases and nationally 26 submissions were received.
“Our North Coast Connect proposal for a fast rail commuter network between Brisbane and Nambour was one of 11 submissions shortlisted and it was the only Queensland proposal that proceeded to Stage 2 of the process,” Ted O’Brien said.
Minister for Urban Infrastructure Paul Fletcher is expected to announce the successful projects for business case by mid to late February.
“Ultimately the best three proposals will receive Australian Government co-funding towards business case development, with the final business cases then progressing to Infrastructure Australia for assessment,” Mr Fletcher said.
He said the business cases should demonstrate faster rail travel times through new or upgraded rail infrastructure.
“In addition, business cases must outline initiatives that will increase housing choices by opening up regional areas, encourage job and career opportunities, and improve access to specialist services for people in regional areas, as well as major events.”
Mr O’Brien said the business case criteria aligned well with the terms outlined for the Government’s $10 billion National Rail Program (NRP).
Late last year the Federal Government revealed the criteria for the NRP saying that better rail connectivity would make it possible to grow regions, reduce congestion in major cities, create thousands of new jobs, and support Government efforts to decentralise.
The Federal Member for Fairfax said fast rail would be a game changer for residents from North Brisbane through Moreton to the Sunshine Coast, but was particularly excited about the opportunities it would present for Maroochydore and Nambour.
“Connecting the new CBD and new international airport to fast rail would deliver huge economic and social benefits to our region,” Mr O’Brien said.
“New businesses and residents would be attracted here and fill out the new CBD. It would open up tourism options and further reduce congestion on the Bruce Highway.
“And of course it provides a dream opportunity to revitalise the town of Nambour.
“If we can get fast rail, as opposed to standard 100 year old rail here on the Coast, where somebody can wake up in Nambour at 7 o’clock and be sitting at their desk in Brisbane’s Adelaide Street by 8 o’clock then we open up so many opportunities.
“This is far more than a transport solution. It’s a vision for a better connected Queensland and a better connected Sunshine Coast.
“My State LNP colleagues, our Sunshine Coast and Noosa Councils, the business sector and the community at large are all just as supportive of better rail for our region as is Team Qld,” said Mr O’Brien.
“There’s a long way to go on this, but let’s forge a unity ticket and go hard.”
Mr O’Brien said the business case would investigate taking fast rail into two areas, firstly Brisbane through to Nambour and secondly to the Coast via CAMCOS.